According to research any green shoot, given adequate light, will remove carbon dioxide and release equal amounts of oxygen. Even a small plant. What are all the office workers missing out on?

Indoor plants are growing in popularity as awareness about the health benefits is becoming widely recognised.

President of the Interior Plantscape Association Nerida Hills told The Fifth Estate indoor plants were more popular now than 15 years ago when she started her indoor plants business.

“People weren’t as aware years ago about the health benefits but now I find people come up to me and ask about the benefits,” Ms Hills said.

“There’s a lot more awareness. Health and wellbeing seems to be high on people’s agendas.”

Research by the Plant and Indoor Environmental Quality Research Group at the University of Technology Sydney lists the benefits of having greenery indoors:

  • reduces indoor air pollution
  • reduces workplace illness
  • reduces sick-leave absences
  • reduce stress and negativity
  • does not create unhealthy mould problems
  • raises performance and productivity
  • improves job satisfaction
  • enhances business image with potential clients
  • improves school performance and patient wellbeing
  • contributes to meeting at least 75 per cent of Indoor Environmental Quality criteria

The research states indoor air pollution can induce sick building syndrome, which can bring on symptoms of coughing, wheezing, headaches, sore eyes, nose or throat, loss of concentration and nausea.

Any green shoot, given adequate light, will remove carbon dioxide and release equal amounts of oxygen

It says airconditioners normally filter out dust particles from incoming air, but don’t remove gaseous pollutants. These pollutants include nitrogen and sulfur oxides, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and ozone.

The UTS research says indoor plants have a strong capacity to remove VOCs and that any green shoot, given adequate light, will remove carbon dioxide and release equal amounts of oxygen.

Ms Hills believes plants raise people’s mood because they bring the natural environment into an otherwise artificial one.

“Staff often take ownership of the plants on their desk,” she said.

“When they take ownership of something that’s on their desk, I suppose it’s a bit similar to pictures that are nice.

“Having the living thing is that much better.”

Ms Hills spoke to The Fifth Estate while on an indoor plant job for a Melbourne shopping centre, where the client’s rationale was to make the shopping environment pleasant enough to encourage customers to stay longer.

She said the majority of her clients were in office buildings, with others in schools, gyms and restaurants.

“With restaurants I’ve found plants have the ability to absorb and buffer noise – green walls are great for that.”